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Why Seahorses Are One of the Deadliest Creatures in the Sea

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It’s not sharks. It’s not barracuda. It’s not bluefin tuna. No, one of the deadliest creatures in the sea is not a species we even think of as a predator at all. It is the seahorse.

Here, I’ll give you a minute to absorb that.

Yep, the seahorse is a shockingly good hunter. It turns out the trick is in the very movements that make us think it is a harmless, cute, kind of clumsy critter. When we look at a seahorse, we see a creature that barely seems to move — it seems to more drift, or float with the current. But that very slow movement allows it to sneak up on prey undetected, since it barely disturbs the water around it. Then with a lightening-fast movement of its head, the prey is in the seahorse’s mouth before anyone but the seahorse realizes what just happened.

I F**kning Love Science writes, “Copepods are speedy little creatures that can zip away from predators after sensing impending danger from movement in the water. Because seahorses move so slowly, they are able to sneak up on them virtually undetected. Once the seahorse is extremely close to the prey, it is able to jerk its head extremely quickly and consume the tiny copepod. Their odd head morphology allows this technique to be successful, because it actually doesn’t disturb the water very much, kind of like how a boat moves through a no wake zone in a lake. This approach works an astounding 90% of the time, making the seahorse one of the deadliest predators in the ocean.”

And fast is right. In this video you see the extremes of seahorse movement — first moving so slow you’re about to turn away from boredom and then so fast you aren’t sure if you actually did see it move, you just know its prey is suddenly gone. Even in the slow-motion replay, the move is lightening fast

And a 90% accuracy?? I don’t even have a 90% accuracy rate bringing home the right groceries from the store. Seahorses have clearly figured out how to make the most of their movements. And who would have thought that such gentle, slow creatures could be so mightily fast when it comes to snagging a meal. Mind-blowing.

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Read more: Nature, Nature & Wildlife, Videos, , , , , ,

article by Jaymi Heimbuch

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Kara, selected from TreeHugger

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

117 comments

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7:23PM PST on Jan 20, 2014

Seahorses are beautiful little creatures. Humans should leave them alone!
One of the deadliest creatures in the ocean? NO! Sharks and others are much more deadly to other creatures in the ocean.

1:47PM PST on Jan 14, 2014

Wow. Surprised with this. Amazing.

10:32AM PST on Jan 12, 2014

Interesting, typo.

10:31AM PST on Jan 12, 2014

Intersting.

3:59PM PST on Jan 9, 2014

Interesting

6:03AM PST on Jan 2, 2014

Wow is right

1:46AM PST on Jan 2, 2014

Very interesting.

7:22PM PST on Dec 31, 2013

They're just very efficient....interesting article.

1:24PM PST on Dec 25, 2013

Fascinating, I never knew this, & Natasha S. is exactly right.

5:32AM PST on Dec 25, 2013

Beautiful lil creatures. Disgusting but no great surprise to learn that China once again is to blame 4 it's inevitable demise. The only way any creature stands a chance of survival here on land in our waters---is if China ceases to exist. Chinese medicine is killing off all our precious animals. A damn bloody shame. Thanks

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